Lorraine Desmarais is a Canadian pianist and composer based in Montreal, Quebec. With the release of Danses Danzas Dances, her most recent CD, she has twelve albums of original compositions to her name. She is a Member of the Order of Canada (Canada’s highest civilian award), she has numerous other prizes, awards and accolades for her commitment to her musical art in performance and composition.
Desmarais is not only the composer, pianist, leader of the big band project but also producer and artistic director. Danses Danzas Dances is a beautifully produced record with excellent sound quality. The first song “Ultra Triple Swing” is a high stepper and blasts out of the gate with ferocity. The Lorraine Desmarais Big Band packs plenty of power with some of Montreal’s foremost musicians tearing it up.
The album features ten compositions, and each song is an exploration of a dance form. Are there even ten different dance forms? From the swing number previously mentioned we move on to the sensuous Bossa Nova infused “Olivier” Desmarais has a wonderfully inspired conversation with the orchestra. Ron Di Lauro responds with his flugelhorn in a most delightful manner. Piano and orchestra smoothly play in this warm and romantic tune.
The saxophonists in the band get to dance a jig in the next number, “Reel” where Alexander Cote, Andre Leroux and Jean-Pierre Zanella let loose with saxophonic abandon. There is a definite Irish lilt to this one and it is a joyous big band romp.
There are many tunes on Danses Danzas Dances that would require a professional dancer to carry out. I say this from the point of view of an amateur, although a lover of dance in all its varied forms. Take the tune “Habanera” a hot number that flies at a breakneck pace with melodic intricacies that would be a choreographers delight and a dancers challenge. The same could be conveyed for “Milonga” the Argentine Tango with its flash and fire. The band plays it hot, led by Demarais’ staccato piano renderings and the trumpet brilliance, care of Aron Doyle.
“Each one of these dances reflects the improvisational talents of the outstanding musicians who join me on this album.” Lorraine Desmarais
If you are a fan of big band music – this is a treasure chest. If like me you are a fan of Ms. Desmarais and her big band composing and arranging skills, then Danses Danzas Dances, is a fantastic treat. What could be better than a group of amazing jazz musicians led by one of Canada’s best pianists, performing original songs with Latin infused flavours and World influences. I highly recommend, Danses Danzas Dances.
Track list: Ultra Triple Swing; Olivier; Reel; Habanera; Tango; Milonga; Bolero Romantico; Reggae Do!; Walzer; Samba Para La Corrida.
Personnel: Richard Gagnon (trombone), Dave Grott (trombone), Mohammad Al-Khabyyr (trombone/voice), Bob Ellis (bass trombone), Andre Leroux (tenor sax/flute/clarinet), Jean-Pierre Zanella (saxophones/flute), David Bellemare (tenor sax/flute), Jean Frechette (baritone sax/clarinet), Alexandre Cote (alto sax/flute), Aron Doyle (trumpet/flugelhorn), Ron Di Lauro (trumpet/flugelhorn), Jocelyn Couture (trumpet/flugelhorn), Jocelyn Lapointe (trumpet/flugelhorn), Frederic Alarie (bass),Camil Belisle (drums).
All compositions and arrangements by Lorraine Desmarais and featuring Lorraine Desmarais on piano.
Release date: April 2016
Buy Lorraine Desmarais’ music: amazon